October 31, 2007

Capacity calculations for wind on the grid

Operators of the electrical grid have to know how much power capacity they can county on when they need it. This creates a problem for wind energy, because only the wind determines its production rate and time. It's largely chance that wind and demand might coincide in any dependable way. Therefore, wind is largely a sideshow, or even an added burden, to the real work of the grid.

Here is how different grid operators look at wind power's actual value in their planning, as compiled by the Utility Wind Integration Group ("Wind Power and Electricity Markets", information compiled through September 21, 2007). For "Capacity Calculation":
  • PJM (Mid-Atlantic plus northern IN and IL) initially assigns a value of 20% of the rated capacity and then uses the average output over the previous 3 years ot 4, 5, and 6 o'clock p.m. from June through August.

  • NYISO uses the average capacity factor between 2 and 6 o'clock p.m. from June through August and between 4 and 8 o'clock p.m. from December through February.

  • ISO-NE (New England) uses the overall capacity factor.

  • Ontario IESO uses 10% of the rated capacity for long-term (e.g., seasonal) forecasting and 0% (zero) for 1 to 34 days ahead.

  • MISO (Midwest) gives wind a 15% capacity value for transmission planning purposes.

  • SPP (KS, OK, TX panhandle) uses the level of output equalled or exceeded for 85% of the top 10% load hours.

  • ERCOT (TX) uses 8.7% of the rated capacity in capacity reserve margin calculations.

  • CAISO uses the average monthly output over the previous 3 years between 12 and 6 o'clock p.m. from May through September.

  • Alberta Electric System Operator assigns a 20% value.
wind power, wind energy, wind farms, wind turbines

October 29, 2007

Bush Wants Another $46 Billion for Wars

[headline and blurb from Ironic Times]

Dems pledge to whine “even louder” before giving it to him.

October 27, 2007

Corrections re: wind turbine foes

A story late last month by Lydia DePillis from Greenwire stated that Lisa Linowes organized the meeting in May 2005 at which a national coalition (namely, National Wind Watch [NWW]) against industrial wind energy development was formed. Whether that statement was due to confusion on the reporter's part or misinformation provided by Lisa, the fact is that Lisa was but one of the dozens of invited guests at that meeting, which was conceived and organized by David Roberson.

A story early this month by Kristi Swartz in the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post stated that the Industrial Wind Action Group (IWAG) was founded in 2005. Again, whether that statement was due to the reporter's confusion or misinformation provided by Lisa, the fact is that National Wind Watch, not IWAG, was founded in 2005. Lisa Linowes left National Wind Watch (after a failed coup followed by stealing NWW's web site and domain) to work independently (as IWAG) in 2006.

The coincidence that two reporters at the same time made similar incorrect statements about Lisa Linowes and National Wind Watch strongly suggests that Lisa was indeed the source of these errors.

wind power, wind energy

October 18, 2007

Huge project takes huge parts

Report from the construction of the Smoky Hills Wind Farm in Kansas, on hills on both sides of state highway 14 south of Lincoln:

The crane standing atop a hill across the Ellsworth County line north of Interstate 70 soared 315 feet into the air.

Nearby stood two white tubes, one stacked on the other. These made up the bottom two sections of a four-section tower. When this and more than 50 other towers like it are operational, the Smoky Hills Wind Farm will go on-line ...

The wind farm is being developed by TradeWind Energy of Lenexa under the ownership of Enel North America, Inc., a subsidiary of Enel, SpA, the third largest utility in the world.

The components [that electricians, engineers, construction employees and others] are putting together to make the wind turbines are huge. For instance, each turbine will have three blades, each one 132 feet in length.

The towers, manufactured in Denmark, Canada and China, are shipped to the Gulf of Mexico, where they are loaded on rail cars and transported to Kanopolis, 10 miles to the south of the construction site.

Other information shared by [farmer, landowner (hosting 15 of the machines), and tour guide Richard Plinsky]:

• Ten special "low-boy trucks" were needed -- just to deliver the crane, which will hoist the tower components, including the nacelle or generation head, which holds the hub for the three blades.

• The turbines [are capable of producing] 1.8 megawatts of energy [sic -- megawatts are a measure of power], making them the largest producers in Kansas. The wind turbines at Spearville and Elk River, east of Wichita, are 1.5 megawatts.

• The cost of a finished turbine is between $3.5 and $4 million [$1.9-2.2 million per megawatt].

• Each base takes 500 cubic yards of concrete, which is poured 8 to 10 feet into the ground.

• Each tower has 77,000 pounds of reinforcement bar in the concrete. The towers stand 260 feet tall.

"It was such a large project that there was no way anybody local could handle it," Plinsky said.

• When construction started, about 140,000 gallons of water were needed daily to pour the concrete and build the roads. Plinsky said large amounts of water are still required to control the dust on the roads.

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, wind turbines, environment, environmentalism

October 13, 2007

Searsburg wind output misstated by officials

To the Editor, Brattleoro (Vt.) Reformer [published Oct. 12, 2007]:

The article "Answers blowing in wind" (Oct. 11) states that the current annual output of the existing Searsburg wind turbines is 27 percent of their capacity. That is incorrect.

For the last four years for which data are available, 2002-2005, the annual output has ranged between 20.4 and 21.7 percent of capacity.

There is no reason to expect a new facility in the same area to perform any better. The new machines are just bigger; they do not rewrite the laws of physics.

Searsburg's output for 2007 is likely to be much lower, since one of the machines -- its blades destroyed by lightning some time ago -- has not been repaired.

Such abandonment after the tax benefits expire and manufacturers have moved on to bigger machines is typical. It should be noted that "decommissioning" is superficial: all such agreements leave the huge steel-reinforced concrete foundation behind, permanently altering the terrain.

The extensive destruction of otherwise protected habitat necessary to erect the giant new wind turbines would be done to produce an annual total of barely one percent of Vermont's needs. It would, however, be practically idle for a third of the time and produce at or above its average rate only another third of the time -- depending on the wind and not grid demand, making its actual value for providing power almost nil. (Its real product is tax avoidance and green tags.)

It's time to admit that wind energy on the grid is a failure, not to stubbornly expand the folly. The only result has been the destruction of rural and wild lands that we and the earth can ill afford.

Eric Rosenbloom
President, National Wind Watch

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, wind turbines, environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights, Vermont

October 10, 2007

Facts and figures about Jiminy Peak wind turbine

The giant wind turbine on Jiminy Peak in the northern Berkshires has been on line for 2 months and has already broken down. At this rate, they won't even save their (our) investment, let alone the planet.

Type: General Electric 1.5-megawatt model SLE

Heights and weights
Base tower section: 72', 64.5 tons
Midsection: 85’, 47.5 tons
Top tower section: 97', 33.5 tons
Total tower: 253' (77 m), 144.5 tones
Nacelle: 12'2" high, 61.7 tons
Blade (x3): 122' long, 9'2" wide, 11.2 tons
Hub: 11' radius
Total blade assembly: 249' diam. (81 m), 134.6 tons, swept area 1.27 acres
Total: 386' (117.5 m), 236 tons

Foundation: 412 cubic yards of cement; 40' diameter; 8' deep in rock; 25 tons of reinforcing rod; 140 8’ anchor bolts

Likely output of this behemoth (when not broken down): about 325 kilowatts annually, reaching that rate or above only a third of the time, essentially idle another third of the time

See some pictures at National Wind Watch.

wind power, wind energy, wind turbines, environment, environmentalism